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The Situation Room

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news.

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U.s. 34, Egypt 20, Us 9, United States 8, Cairo 8, Romney 6, Libya 5, Morsi 5, London 3, Afghanistan 3, Benghazi 3, Ben Wedeman 3, Motorola 2, Cialis 2, Nabisco 2, Subaru 2, Cisco 2, Washington 2, Brittany 2, America 2,
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  CNN    The Situation Room    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional  
   reporting and online resources update international news.  

    September 15, 2012
    3:00 - 3:59pm PDT  

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senior fellow at stanford is going to join me live for some insight. you don't want to miss that. i'm don lemon at world headquarters in atlanta. i'm going to see you back here in one hour from now. wolf blitzer and "the situation room" will begin. >> you're in "the situation room" happening now. >> protesters rage against the united states and an inflammatory muslim film. an interview with al qaeda's leader. >> with only 52 days to go before the election. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room."
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>> violent protests across the muslim world this week, sparked by a low budget movie by a mystery film maker. the u.s. embassies found themselves under attack by outraged mobs and in some cases forces fired on mobs with deadly consequences and all of it caused a dramatic shift in the presidential campaign as foreign policy suddenly took center stage. ben wedeman is back in cairo. it seems that this weekend there seems to be a cooling of heads to a certain degree in egypt. is that what you're seeing, ben? >> certainly among the leaders of the muslim brotherhood and in the administration of the egyptian president, there is an attempt to calm down the
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situation rhetorically. and certainly we've seen in messages conveyed by leaders of the muslim brotherhood and the egyptian president, they're trying to send a message of reassurance to washington. but at the same time they're kind of walking a tight rope between washington and the street here in egypt, where there is anger, where we have seen these protests really going on around the clock. and therefore there's a difference between what we're hearing in english from the egyptian government and from the muslim brotherhood and what we're reading on the website of the muslim brotherhood in arabic and what we're hearing from the rank and file. for instance, on friday we attended a demonstration outside a mosque where they were chanting the obama, there are a million osamas. this is from the rank and file
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of the muslim brotherhood where they say the united states is the patron of international terror, that it's the enemy of god, we're hearing mixed messages. >> that's worry some. is this anti-american hatred, is it strictly the result of that inflammatory film or is there something bigger here that's going on? >> well, it's no secret that many egyptians and many arabs have long been unhappy with u.s. foreign policy in the region with support for israel, the invasion of iraq and afghanistan, support for dictator governments over the last decades. but this isn't necessarily the feeling of the great majority of egyptians. you have to keep in mind that the revolution has opened pandora's box.
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out of that box has come the good, the bad and the ugly and at the moment we're seeing in many countries of the arab world that have removed their dictators, we're seeing the ugly. but i think the good will come out again. many ordinary egyptians have condemned the violence outside the u.s. embassy. they're not happy with that youtube video that has offended so many people, but they don't believe that violence is the answer of the so i think we're going to see the silent majority of egyptians come out eventually and say enough is enough. we have to get this country back on track. the economy running again. i mean, the pictures from the streets of cairo, around the american embassy are not going to help tourism which supports about 15% of the population. and wolf, for instance, wednesday evening when the embassy was breached here in cairo, was also the last day of a visit of a very large american
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delegation which had the support of the obama delegation, which was trying to drum up investments here in egypt. so it's not all black here at the moment. hopefully a little light will come into the situation in the coming days. >> ben wedeman on the ground for us in cairo. thank you. let's get some more on the turmoil in egypt and throughout the middle east. "new york times" columnist. all of our viewers remember. if somebody said to you at the time that the arab spring would result in what we've seen over the past few days, breaking into the u.s. embassy, tearing down flags, murdering diplomats, you wouldn't have believed it, would you? >> i don't know about that. i think that when democracy comes, you get this kind of turbulence. i remember i covered south korea
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after democracy arrived there, and then as well, the american flag was burned in the main square in seoul. there's a lot of anti-americanism in a good deal of the world. and when people have more power, they unfortunately express it in some really unhappy ways. >> i had very high expectations, obviously, that were unrealistic. but that was just my hope more than my estimate at the time. what do you think of the initial reaction of the democratically elected government, especially the president, in egypt, to what happened in cairo? >> president morsi blue it. i don't think it's fair to hold the action of a few hundred protesters against egypt. the president went awol. he was every bit as missing from action as the new chinese
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leader. and he's been called on account and subsequently he's behaved much better. he blew it, he jeopardized the american relations and investment in egypt. it was really a major screw-up. >> it was a major screw-up but it took a phone call from president obama to turn things around a bit. you know public attitudes in the united states, especially on capitol hill. listen to peter king, he's the chief of the homeland security, speaking about the u.s. aid that still continues to egypt right now. >> egypt is not acting like an ally, and if it does not act like an ally, it should not continue to get over a billion in military aid. >> you know there's going to be pressure to suspend u.s. military and economic assistance to egypt. what do you make of that? >> well, actually i think at the end of the day it's unlikely to be suspended and that those threats and that kind of
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rhetoric may give some leverage to the white house to get egypt back in the game. and i think president morsi did get the message. the irony is until recently he had behaved pretty well and in this case he blew it dramatically. since then and more recently he's behaving much better. i hope it's an aberration and he's learning on the job. >> i spoke to a columnist for the washington post, he suggested that maybe as conservatives, shall we say, is the government, the muslim brotherhood-led government, there are people out there who would like nothing more than to undermine president morsi and his government and they may have played a significant role in trying to go into the u.s. embassy. have you heard that as well? >> i think that's exactly right. and i think it's true not only in egypt. i think there was a similar
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dynamic not only in libya, in sudan. we may be to some degree pawns in this. in several of these countries you've had people who feel they've played a major role, took huge risks in these revolutions and that they've been kind of marginalized since then. and they see this as a chance to gain public support to embarrass their governments, and there's kind of a competition between, wel them. and the attack on the u.s. embassy is part of the drama. but it's less about us than about that competition. i would argue. >> this anti-islamic film, how much of that is responsible for the anti-u.s. violence or is that just an excuse? >> well, i think it's both. i mean, i think if you talk to an awful lot of just ordinary muslims around the world,
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there's real indig nation at it. it hit every button possible. and i think a lot of people who didn't grow up from a free society assume that the u.s. government is somehow behind it or condoning it. and so there's that back drop. and then i think on top of that, then you have extremists who take advantage of that and inflame it and seize upon it. >> you want to venture a little bit of predings where the region will be a year from now? let me repeat the question. >> i'm sorry. >> do you want to venture a prediction where the region will be a year from now? >> i think it's going to be continue to be messy. i think that -- i don't think it's going to be a complete rupture. yemen might be a little more extreme, but in the country that matters the most, egypt. and even for libya as well. i think it's going to continue to muddle along.
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i don't think the american embassy in egypt is going to be seized the way it was in iran. but if you look at eastern europe after 1989, countries like romania were a mess for years. indonesia after 1997. that was a mess for years as well. so i think it takes a lot of time to restabilize these countries. >> nick from "the new york times" as usual. thanks very much. >> my pleasure. the controversial anti-muslim 234ri78 may have its roots in a tension that exists in egypt. we're taking a closer look at why it's heating up now. plus the dramatic impact on the race for the white house. now the focus is on foreign policy. thanks for babysitting the kids, brittany.
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. mitt romney provoked a political firestorm by
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criticizing president obama almost immediately after hearing about the attacks in egypt and libya. seizing on a statement released by the u.s. embassy in cairo before the attacks occurred, romney said he was outraged by the administration' first response. the president slapped back in an interview. >> there's a broader lesson to be learned here. governor romney has a tendency to shoot first and aim later and as president, one of the things i've learned is you can't do that. it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them. >> while romney later toned it down, he refused to apologize or take back his initial criticism of the president's international policies. here's what he told abc news. >> what i said was exactly the same conclusion the white house reached was that the statement was inappropriate that's why they backed from it as well. >> they didn't say it was
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showing sympathy for the attackers. >> i think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. i think it should have been taken down and apparently the white house felt the same way. >> no direct response to the president? >> i'm not going to worry about the campaign. >> i'm joined by candy crowley and john king. candy, some of romney's national security advisers went almost further almost seeming to bame the president and his alleged weakness around the world, messages he's sending or not sending for the outbreak of violence in north africa and the middle east. >> they certainly said things would be different if mitt romney would have been president. they clearly view this as an opening. not the kind of negative that so many folks sort of see this as. first of all, that it's a conversation that not going to help mitt romney get elected. it's hard to challenge a commander in chief in times of
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crisis, unless they've held american hostages for 444 days. but this is not that. so it's very hard to kind of challenge the president on this. but challenge him, they are. and i must say, i think you have to look at this from the point of view of the base of the republican party. they like this. that makes them happy. that gets them out. >> that's voter turnout is key. >> no question about that. both campaigns the number one priority for bees is gin up your base and tern them out. a lot of republican strategists scratching their heads. i talked to a very senior person in his campaign just before this. he said weak leader translates into his economic failures. disappointment, lag of progress, absence of a plan for the future. they're hoping to score some points on foreign policy and connect the dots back home. >> the foreign policy to romney was quoted as saying there's a
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compelling story if you had a president romney you would be in a different situation. the president can't even track of who's our ally or not. this is a.m. mature hour. on friday, you heard paul ryan on the war path on obama's international record. >> i think the counter argument you also here from the obama campaign, if we had gone out while all this was happening and talked about jobs, everyone would have said there's this international crisis going on. how would you have reacted. you can question the timing, you can question all these kinds of things, but somehow when you're a presidential, you have to react in some way, shape or form. but it does, they totally agree with the idea, that three days into this, are three days where the headlines, not necessarily mitt romney, but where the headlines are all about this. that can break well for president obama or it might break badly. we don't know. >> poll numbers in the aftermath what has happened in the middle east. we do have poll numbers going into this in the aftermath of
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the conventions in three key battle ground states. you've seen these numbers. in ohio, at least right now, this is once again before the violence erupted in the middle east. obama 50%, romney 43%. florida and virginia the same. obama 49%, romney 44%. if obama takes those three states, that's it. >> if you look at the national polls post both conventions, there seems to be undeniably the up tick for president. if you look at the poll -- 10% more democrats than republicans. they think it's somewhat out of balance they do acknowledge the president is ahead in ohio. you can see this. the president got some bouts. we can argue over how much. and here's the thing for mitt romney with 50 days left you're going into the last 50 days of the campaign. you can change one state. if you're good, z five points is
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not so much. but if you have to change four or five points in florida, three points here, two points there, then it gets complicated. he needs a national change in the dynamic which means he needs a very strong debate performance. >> there will be three debates and candy you'll be moderating. do those debates really, really change the final few weeks of a campaign? >> they certainly can. sometimes you see that it's already set. but they certainly can. and in any race that looks as though it might be around the margins, and this race has kind of been within the margins for a while. and you're right there's been an obama bounce post-vengs. a debate, a sigh can change things. there's so many things that go on. and it's their last best chance to change that dynamic. >> and remember president obama is the incumbent president. this race remind me a lot of 1992 except that president obama
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seems to have a bit of an edge going into the debates. you mentioned the sigh, there was an al gore sigh. remember george h. w. bush looked at his watch? that's why you see both of them taking time, coming off the trail to prepare for these debates because they understand how critical it is. i would say more critical for mitt romney because of the basic trend of the race right now. >> practice, practice, practice. you have nancy pelosi sunday morning on "state of the union" 9:00 a.m. eastern. we'll be watching. the violent protests across the arab world triggered by a movie made here in the united states. that film may be tied to a deep religious conflict inside ekwipt. plus who's behind the murder of a u.s. a.m. bass der and three others in libya.
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in city after city across the muslim world, protesters are venting anti-american fury over a crude anti-islamic film. it was made in the united states. >> the one flikt is between more hard line islamists and members of the coptic church, the largest christian church of the middle east. there is no connection directly between the church itself and the film, but the mere implications have been very pro vekttive. >> reporter: at the genesis of all this violence, a poorly made
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film depekting the prophet mohammed, the largest christian church in the middle east. u.s. federal offices believe the man who made the film was convicted three years ago for bank fraud. a production staffer who worked on the movie said he went by a different name and believed he was a coptic christian. he told him he had been in egypt where the church is based raising money for the film. the suggestion that cops were involved in the movie inflamed themedia. >> islamists. >> analist eric trager and a coptic church official tell us there's no connection between
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the coptic church and the movie. in an interview, he said this. >> translator: every muslim knows that he is one of egypt's occupiers. >> reporter: an official with the coptic church here in the u.s. told us the church strongly condemns this film. the church issues the statement calling the movie abusive and part of a malicious campaign to divide people. the coptic official says the church has no connection egypt's church is roughly 2,000 years old. coptic christians make up 2% of the population. the bombing of a christian church in alexandria last year killed at lease 2 dozen people. >> how far back does this tension go and what's the reason for it?
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>> the reason for the tension i think is due to the violence that cops have experienced both under the previous regime and since that regime collapsed. and that has really fueled mistrust. >> trager says it's estimated that about 1,000 members of the coptic church have tried to levee jipt since the revolution last year. a u.s. mission gutted and an ambassador murdered so who's to blame? the brother of al qaeda's leader is out of prison and has a stunning message for the west. ♪ ♪ there's another way to help erase litter box odor. purina tidy cats. only tidy cats has odor erasers. making it easy to keep things at home... just the way you want them. tidy cats with odor erasers.
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in an analysis for cnn.com about the anti-u.s. violence spreading across the muslim world right now, our national security analyst remind us that christian and muslim extremists have incited deadly protests for years and sometimes the words of
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political leaders help spark violence. peter is joining us now from london. john mccain suggested that what happened in benghazi, was an act of terrorism. do you agree? >> sure. i mean, it's a civilian target, it's an embassy, it's protected by international law. it absolutely is an act of terrorism. >> was there any al qaeda connection, either by an affiliate or by an organization that inspired by al qaeda, do you believe there was some sort of al qaeda connection to what happened in benghazi? >> i mean, i think that is obviously the fbi is investigating. my guess is there's no formal al qaeda connection. there are groups that are supporters, it's a shadowy group
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of people. they might have had some historical connections to al qaeda in the past. certainly the leader of al qaeda talked about the recent death of a kind of key al qaeda libyan leader just before this event, there might be some kind of connection. but i think it's pretty early to be making any definitive conclusio conclusions. the libyans have arrested some people. there is an interview with a libyan official who says this seems to be a deliberate attack, because not only did they attack a consulate, they also attacked a safe house. it implies some kind of penetration of the libyan security services by this group. >> and it also occurred on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. the effort to sack the u.s. embassy in cairo also occurring on the anniversary of 9/11. is that coincidental? what do you make of that?
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>> it's a very interesting coincidence, if it's a coincidence. the history here, wolf, is that no one was paying any attention to this video until a religious channel in egypt basically picked it up and translated it and broadcast it in egypt and that was a few, in the run up to september 11th. so without this media channel drawing attention to the clip, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation in quite the same way. these events did take place on september 11th, that's a very high highly coincidental date. >> the u.s. department of homeland security and the fbi issued a joint warning this week as a result of what's happened in libya, egypt, elsewhere, among other things saying that the risk of violence could increase both at home and abroad. how worried should americans be, not only around the world, but in the united states right now?
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>> i mean, i think in the united states, i don't see american muslims community organizations have condemned the violence. i don't see this really being problematic. certainly in countries, we've seen countries around the arab world and also in afghanistan already, protests, some of which have turned violent. i was quite concerned by the statement by the president, a man you know well and have interviewed many times. he took the opportunity to condemn the criminal acts, but he wasn't talking about the attack on the u.s. consulate on benghazi. he was talking about this stupid film. and he's got a history of drawing attention t these kinds of things and these have produced very violent reactions in afghanistan. so far we haven't seen that, but last year no one was paying attention to the pastor when he
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bernd the kuran. >> it's interesting because president morsi of egypt also in his initial statement, he didn't condemn the effort to sack the embassy in cairo, he condemned the film. it took a phone call from the president of the united states to get him to change his statements. but ben wedeman just told us, the egyptian government in public in english is different than arabic. they're going after the u.s. they're saying that, they're really going after president obama, if you will, as well. it's one thing to say something in english, another thing to say something to your own people in arabic. how should we read this? >> well, i mean, it's quite disturbing. but i think president morsi in egypt doesn't claim to be a
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close ally of the united states. and in fact, the muslim brotherhood which he's part of has certainly had long decades of suspicion of the united states, it's a little less surprising. i think for the closely to not publicly condemn the attacks, i think it speaks for itself. it's not an add mirible thing. >> is there any logical explanation? is it just feeding in to his own domestic audience? >> yeah, i think that's part of it. he did extend his condolences in a conversation with president obama. the statement that he made publicly and the first statement he made was drawing a great deal of attention to criminal acts, which is this video.
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>> thanks very much. a peace proposal from an unlikely source. the brother of al qaeda's top leader. plus, what the u.s. drone program has in common with realty tv. the u.s. air force things it may have something to learn. thanks for babysitting the kids, brittany.
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it's a story you won't see anywhere else. the brother of al qaeda's top leader speaking out. he has been in prison on terrorism charges for years but now he's out and as cnn's nick robertson reports exclusively, he has a message for the west. >> reporter: if the man next to me looks familiar, it's because
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he is. he is the brother of al qaeda leader. he says he has a plan to end al qaeda's jihad against the west. >> translator: i only speak as a mediator for the islamic movement. i don't represent certain groups. my roll is a mediator between the west and them. our people like death the same way that others like life. but we don't want to get into this endless cycle of violence. we like for others and us to live peacefully. mohammed was released from egyptian jail barely five months ago after serving 14 years on charges including terrorism. charges he denies. before jail, he and his brother from fellow jihadists. still share the same ideology,
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he says. >> translator: there is no difference between my brother's thinking and mine. the portrayal of my brother's ideology and mine that it's blood thirsty is not true at all, he says. >> reporter: his sage page proposal offers a truce if the u.s. and west stop intervening inmuslim lands, u.s. to stop interfering in muslim education. the u.s. to release all islamist prisoners. it also calls to them to stop attacks, protect legitimate western and u.s. interests in muslim lands. stop provoking the u.s. to the west. it is similar to a proposal that bin laden made in 2004. >> then came the attack in london in 2005? is your proposal like this if it
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isn't accepted, then more attacks? >> translator: i'm sorry to say those who caused the london attacks were the west. either you stop the oppression or accept reconciliation. you have to be logical if you want to live in peace. then you must make others feel that they will live in peace. >> reporter: to make his point, he leads me to a protest outside the u.s. embassy. >> and this is the protest calling for the release. >> the so-called blind-sheik jailed for his part in the 1993 world trade center attack in new york. we meet his son. >> when you call for prisoners to be released as part of your documents, you're talking about the sheik? >> of course. >> the first one.
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if he's released, this can help improve the relationship. how does that work? why does it change people's minds? >> translator: because, he explains, it reduces the impression of u.s. arrogance. he says he could be in contact with his brother if the u.s. allows it. >> do you think it's realistic that the u.s. would release the man accusing of master minding september 11th. >> as you see his hand is stained in blood of the americans. we also see the hands of american leaders and soldiers stained in the blood of the muslims. those imprisoned would also be released. he has faith his brother wants to turn the page, too. but it wouldn't be the first time the terms were unimaginable
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for western leaders. >> a $25 million reward is still on the table from the u.s. state department for the capture or conviction of the al qaeda leader. it's a far cry from the hot tubs and emotional confrontations, but the u.s. air force is hoping re al alty tv with modern technology. at together you get quality services on your terms, with total customer support. legalzoom documents have been accepted in all 50 states, and they're backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. so go to legalzoom.com today and see for yourself. it's law that just makes sense. so go to legalzoom.com today and see for yourself. ari'm fine.y, babe? ♪
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tv producers and the u.s. air force have much in common. but they have to evaluate videos to decide which are important. air force drones collect more than a thousand videos a day.
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chris lawrence is joining us now. what can the u.s. air force learn from these tv producers? >> it sounds crazy on the surface of things, but then when you step back and start to think of these reality shows that run continuously and then have to compress all of that quickly into a 30-minute episode, you start to get an idea of where the air force may be looking. hard to believe that tlc's "toddlers" -- ♪ >> -- courteney and chloe -- >> -- would have something to teach the air force. but the reality is it just might. >> they looked for espn, different networks, you name it, we are out there looking important whatever we can that can help us. >> you see, thousands of
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surveillance drones are bombarding the air force with data. so how much video do you see in a day? >> we have about 1600 hours worth of video we see a day. >> reporter: we got an exclusive look inside the intelligence center at langley air base where all that video pours in. there is a limit to how much a human being can watch. >> get up, unfocus your eyes. >> reporter: a report found the military could learn something from shows like "rock 'em love." >> if it was up to me i would do it all for you. >> reporter: reality tv producers see hours of mundane video with multiple cameras running 24/7. but hair software can tag the key scenes. and to allow operators to see beyond their individual computers, the report recommends to the military adopt the tv control room setup. >> two, one. >> reporter: the clock is ticking. new surveillance systems can spy
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on entire towns. more advance centers will capture a lifetime of video in just one day. >> so if you sat down and watched movies for 85 years straight, high-definition movies, that's the amount of information the sensor, one sensor, will create. >> reporter: in a couple of years you may need well over 100,000 people just watching this video all the time. >> right. we are not going to get more people. we have to make do with the people we have. >> reporter: officials tell us why spend money to develop new software if they can adapt what reality producers already use. and catching just one primary of video can have huge consequences. >> in the end what it does for us is makes us provide better information to the guy on the ground so we can save his life. >> that's what's really important. air important is also considering whether to set up one control station, dedicate
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one control station, for each area that they are looking at. instead of just being all of that video back to everyone. it is the same idea it is a real shows assigning one crew to watch khloe's bedroom and another to the kardashian store. wolf, if you have been bragging to your friends that you only watch "downton abbey" while you have been secretly tivo'ing "toddlers and tiaras" it is okay to admit it. there are some differences. obviously sports telecast or reality show, they are dealing with a very confined area. a playing field they know, a store, a room. and the air important in the military could looking anywhere on a huge field. so there are some bigger challenges for the military but there are also tools here that they may be able to use and save money doing so. >> chris lawrence at the
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here is a look at the hotshots. vietnam, workers pull carts through the streets on their way to work and construction site. singapore, prince william and the duchess of cambridge stroll through a cemetery where allied forces from world war ii are laid to rest. south core yeah, u.s. soldier takes his position for a training exercise and israel, look at this. would bears paw at a snack of afternoon fruits and vegetables. makers of the all american cookie the oreo are giving it the flavor of candy corn. jeanne moos gives as you taste test. >> reporter: what do you get when you combine america's most famous cookie with its most loved and hated candy? you get this mutant love child of deliciousness.
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the limited edition candy corn owe yo. about a third of the folks we tested without telling were able to place the test. >> i got it the corn. candy corn. >> i will give them props for matching the flavor. but i don't like candy corn. >> once a year, love it. for about three hands full. then i'm done. >> reporter: just in time for halloween, nabisco is selling the candy corn oreo at target stores. naturally candy corn has been at target for hateers. >> all of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911. >> reporter: lewis black calls it the worst thing about halloween. when we gave the cookie to fiona. >> reminds me about all of the candies i had for halloween. >> reporter: like this? >> yes. i love those. >> reporter: odd flavors of oreos are nothing new. nabisco makes blueberry ice cream oreos for indonesia and
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green tea oreos for china. they have gotten edgy with their advertising. giving the oreos' image a makeover for gay pride and to honor the latest mars rover. an actual candy corn oreo has the internet chomping at the bit to review it. >> children, smell. there you go. can i have it? that's a no. >> reporter: one reviewer thought the cookie's taste so identical to candy corn that if you can't get your hands on the new oreos, he recommends sticking actual candy corn between the halves of a regular oreo. still some refuse to try it. >> i'm in a welfare-step program for oreos. >> reporter: childhood memories. candy corn for halloween fangs. some people only have eyes for oreos. even in the most unlikely places. >> hi. this is rob. i'm in the bathtub. you want to see my package?